Brazilian Coronavirus Variant May Be More Transmissible, Eva
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The P.1 coronavirus variant, which originated in Brazil, is likely to be more transmissible than other strains of SARS-CoV-2, and might be able to evade immunity gained from previous infection with the virus, according to a modelling study. The research, used data from Manaus city in Brazil to characterise P.1 and its properties, including 184 samples of genetic sequencing data.

Manaus is facing a massive second wave outbreak, with high number of daily deaths and instances of the health care systems collapsing. The researchers from University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues in Brazil found that genetically speaking P.1 is different from the previous strains of coronavirus. It has acquired 17 mutations including an important trio of mutations in the spike protein -- K417T, E484K and N501Y, they said.

"Our epidemiological model indicates that P.1 is likely to be more transmissible than previous strains of coronavirus and likely to be able to evade immunity gained from infection with other strains," said corresponding author of the study, Samir Bhatt, a researcher at University of Copenhagen.

The researchers then used an epidemiological model to estimate how transmissible P.1 seemed to be. They also estimated signs of P.1 evading immunity gained from previous infection. "Roughly speaking, our model incorporates many data sources such as mortality counts and genetic sequences and compares two different virus strains to see which one best explains the scenario that unfolded in Manaus," Bhatt said.

"One was the 'normal coronavirus' and the other was dynamically adjusted using machine learning to best fit the actual events in Brazil," he said. This modelling allowed the researchers to conclude that P.1 is likely to be between 1.7 and 2.4 times more transmissible than non-P1-lineages of the coronavirus. They also conclude that P.1 is likely to be able to evade between 10 and 46 percent of the immunity gained from infection with non-P.1 coronavirus.

Source:
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2021/04/13/science.abh2644
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